America’s SBDC Iowa is an outreach program of Iowa State University’s Ivy College of Business and the Office of Economic Development and Industry Relations. Funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration.
The Ragged Edge Art Bar and Gallery, Cedar Falls
The Ragged Edge Art Bar and Gallery opened its doors in Cedar Falls in October of 2020. Kendra Wohlert, Ragged Edge’s owner, was born and raised in the Cedar Valley but left the area in 1987. She obtained her music education degrees in California and Arizona and after teaching out west and in Peace Corps Africa, Wohlert came home to Cedar Falls 20 years later in 2006.
After her marriage to Eric Giddens and the birth of their son, Henry, the family decided to return to the Cedar Valley where she continued her teaching career in Cedar Falls for another 9 years. After a 24-year teaching career, Wohlert decided to make a switch. She had always had a passion for painting and art, so in 2018 decided to focus on this area of interest. Kendra always had a dream for an art bar that featured craft cocktails, local artists, live music, and a place where a community hub could be constructed. In June 2020, the opportunity arose. A building and location Kendra knew and loved came up for lease. Kendra was able to see her vision in this space and knew that she had to at least investigate the possibility.
When trying to decide on the perfect time to open her new business she decided to use the pandemic to her advantage. “If you wait for absolutely everything to line up before you take that leap, it will never happen,” stated Kendra, “so you have to be creative”. Having strict COVID-19 restrictions in place allowed the business to open safely and slowly with limited reservations. This enabled the new business owner to get her feet solidly on the ground. She was able to base her product purchases on her reservation numbers to keep spending and waste at a minimum. She was able to take the time to set up art retail sales to make sure her 29 artists were represented and successful. She was also able to spend quality time getting to know her new customers without the pressure of a crowded bar. She made sure that every customer that stepped into Ragged Edge came out with the same great experience.
Wohlert owes much of her success to Amy Dutton, the Reginal Director of the University of Northern Iowa SBDC. Amy helped Kendra every step of the way. From the initial survey to see if the business would be viable, to writing a business plan, and then guiding her through the myriad of details that come with opening a new business. One year later, she continues to be a valuable resource for Kendra and her husband Eric, as they ready to hire their first employee. Kendra says, “Amy has been a vital resource to me. She is extremely knowledgeable and very connected in the community. Her advice and commitment to my success have been invaluable throughout the whole process.” Kendra and Eric have many plans for their business and continue to add events like artist workshops, seasonal cocktail tastings, artist pop-ups, live music, and local author readings to the schedule. Kendra and Eric are both behind the bar now as they adjust to the new normal of being a crowded and popular place for people to come together to enjoy a hand-crafted cocktail and beautiful artwork in a warm and friendly atmosphere.
To find out more information about the Ragged Edge, please visit their website at: https://www.myraggededge.com